Talking about the valor of soldiers from across the world can never lose its sheen. The same goes for the Indian Army, which has produced innumerable Bravehearts over decades.
Notably, India’s history bears witness to a distinct act of altruism, engaging in a war not for conquest but to liberate a neighboring nation.
The year 1971 marked a pivotal moment when the tyranny of West Pakistan against East Pakistan reached an unbearable crescendo.
India, devoid of self-interest, stepped in as a beacon of hope and, through sheer determination, triumphed over West Pakistan, paving the way for the birth of a new nation—Bangladesh.
Though this has been explored in several art forms in the past, the latest to do so is Pippa, a new Amazon Movie from India.
It runs for around 140 minutes and follows the life of Captain Balram Singh Mehta of India’s 45 Cavalry regiment.
The movie is based on the book, The Burning Chaffees, written by none other than the soldier himself.
Here is my Pippa movie review.
A hot-headed young officer of the Indian Army, Balram Singh Mehta, must put behind his indiscipline and the habit of disobeying orders to become part of the Battle of Garibpur to liberate Bangladesh.
His love for Pippa, the Russian amphibious war tank, “PT-76,” comes in handy in the war.
Directed by Raja Krishna Menon, Pippa stars Ishaan (Balram), Mrunal Thakur (Radha), and Priyanshu Painyuli (Ram) in lead roles.
Pippa is a Punjabi word for tin. The war tank, PT-76, was given the name Pippa because it could float on water like an empty Pippa of ghee.
What Works for Pippa?
The film arrives with the right intentions. It aims to deliver a thoughtful message and more or less, succeeds in doing so.
The film’s opening sequences, especially the initial 10-15 minutes, serve as a compelling foundation.
The stark and haunting portrayal of the heinous massacre of civilians at Dacca University by Pakistani forces resonates deeply, etching a powerful imprint on the viewer’s conscience.
Though deeply disturbing, this is the point that attracts you the most to Pippa. Throughout the movie, you will be exposed to such brutal visuals; however, their impact might vary.
For Indian audiences, Pippa evokes an overwhelming sense of national pride, celebrating the valor and selflessness of the Indian Army.
The sacrifices made by these soldiers and their unwavering bravery on the battlefield stir profound emotions, leaving a lump in the throat and a profound sense of admiration.
Sadly, that’s about it for the positive aspects of Pippa.
Also, you get a glimpse of Sam Manekshaw, India’s former Chief of Army Staff. A film based on his life is set to theatrically release in the first week of December, starring Vicky Kaushal.
Pippa just gives a hint of what his role in the war might have been.
How are the Performances?
I am not sure if this was the intended outcome, but Ishaan playing Captain Balram Mehta is not as captivating. He tries to be casual, impromptu, and oversmart.
However, the talented actor cannot ace the nitty-gritty required to shine like a soldier on the screen.
Mrunal Thakur, as Radha, is sweet. Initially appearing as a character tucked in the background, there’s a delightful surprise in the narrative as the film progressively amplifies her significance.
Thakur’s portrayal delicately weaves her character’s growth, a commendable feat in a biographical movie (of someone else), ultimately shining a brighter spotlight on her role.
Pippa also features Priyanshu Painyuli as Major Ram Mehta. His composed demeanor helps the film find its footing. He seems to be on the right path of growth in the Indian Film Industry.
What Doesn’t Work for Pippa?
Yes, you witness the Indian Army’s valor and high spirits. Yes, there are visuals that break your heart. But, sadly, none of it is because of the script’s prowess.
It’s just a natural reaction. Pippa lacks conviction and thus, standalone stimulations don’t find a place in its narrative.
The adaptation from the book to the screen is lackluster, which one can sense from its half-hearted storyline.
It needed a stimulus that could push the film ahead. However, everything feels staged, from the dead bodies to the battleground scenes.
The absence of authenticity in war sequences costs Pippa the most.
When the protagonist’s personal life cannot land an impact, you expect his bravery to lead the plot, which is again disappointingly presented on the screen.
All these factors combine to make the movie emotionless. While you might be looking forward to a highly sentimental climax, this Amazon production barely touches the cusp of your expectations.
The tension of losing someone, of being part of a war, of seeing devastation all around, of an impending catastrophe is completely lacking in Pippa.
All these aspects were present in the recently successful films including URI: The Surgical Strike, Shershah, etc.
Additionally, the music lands below the mark and fails to generate a wholesome cinematic experience.
The makers have tried to use melodies for an evocative presentation but their execution could have been better.
At times, the songs aren’t good while on others, the onscreen depictions don’t complement them.
Stream or Skip?
Pippa is better skipped, considering the film’s overall performance.